ActionAid welcomes victory for Danish campaigners

ActionAid welcomes victory for Danish campaigners

ActionAid has welcomed the decision by Danish pension fund PFA Pension to stop investing in the German company Heidelberg Cement over its extraction of raw materials in parts of Palestine, which is under Israeli occupation.

The exclusion of Heidelberg Cement from the PFA investment portfolio is, according to the PFA website, because Heidelberg Cement is linked to violations of fundamental human rights, contrary to the PFA policies for responsible investment as well as the international guidelines for responsible corporate conduct, the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). The decision followed prolonged pressure from a number of organisations, including ActionAid Denmark.

Troels Børrild, Senior Policy Advisor and CSR expert with ActionAid Denmark said the decision to blacklist followed a period of “fruitless back-and-forth dialogue with the company [by PFA Pension].”

“Investing in companies that profit from the systematic human rights violations caused by the illegal Israeli settlements and the belligerent occupation is becoming toxic to investors. At times, the actions of such companies will be directly illegal under international law, and at least in breach of the corporate responsibility to respect human rights. Too many investors and companies still fail to live up to their own policies in the case of businesses that profit from the Israeli occupation.”

“ActionAid supports the principle that investors should use their leverage to create positive changes in the companies they invest in, through dialogue. However, this should be done in accord with international guidelines for corporate human rights responsibilities (UNGP). This means that it should be carried out systematically, with due diligence, and with a reasonable degree of transparency. 

“Investments should be brought to an end if the dialogue does not bring the company in line with international guidelines for responsible corporate behaviour within a reasonable timeframe. Too many investors still take an opaque approach to active ownership efforts. They fail to proactively follow up with explanations for what they’ve done to influence the companies with which they engage in active ownership efforts to bring about change. Thus bringing themselves at odds with the international norms for responsible business conduct - and exposing themselves to unnecessary speculation and criticism."

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